Jun 26, 2017

Axios Generate

By Ben Geman
Ben GemanAmy Harder

Good Monday morning! Welcome to what the White House is calling energy week. Every week is energy week in our world, but Ben has more on the Trump administration's plans in today's newsletter.

Meanwhile, my latest Harder Line column reports on the trend of shareholders increasingly pressuring fossil-fuel companies on climate change risk, and some related analysis not yet made public by the nonprofit group Ceres.

Check it out below, and then I'm going to hand the reins back to Ben as usual.

Wall Street is starting to care about climate change

Efforts by shareholders to push resolutions on the risk related to carbon regulations are reaching a tipping point, with almost half of investors in fossil-fuel and utility companies backing resolutions, according to a new analysis by nonprofit group Ceres not yet published publicly. Activist shareholders of publicly traded companies have been pushing resolutions on climate change for years and now the effort is going mainstream with new support from institutional investors.

Why it matters: With the U.S. government retreating on climate policy under the leadership of President Trump, corporate America is emerging as the central battleground. The increased support for climate-related resolutions show that mainstream investors are taking the issue more seriously than ever despite Trump.

Read the rest of the Harder Line here.

Trump to promote energy 'dominance'

It's "energy week" at the White House, the latest of the administration's themed messaging weeks.

A word you'll hear a lot: A major emphasis will be achieving U.S. energy "dominance," according to a White House official.

Big picture: Trump will emphasize that the U.S. is "on the brink of becoming a net exporter of oil, gas, coal and other energy resources," via Bloomberg.

Quick take: Trumpworld's frequent use of "dominant" creates a rationale for easing rules and making more lands and waters available for drilling. They need a big word, because U.S. oil and natural gas production already surged under Obama, reaching records in gas and near-records in oil.

How it will unfold, according to the official . . .

  • Energy will be a "key item of discussion" when Trump hosts Indian PM Narendra Modi at the White House on Monday.
  • Trump and Energy Secretary Rick Perry will meet Wednesday in the White House Roosevelt Room with governors, tribal officials and others.
  • The big showcase comes Thursday, when Trump will make a speech at the Energy Department at an event with other Cabinet officials and top aides, and industry workers and officials.
  • Looking forward, Trump will soon travel to Poland, which received its first shipment of U.S. LNG earlier this month.
What else we're watching
  1. EPA: Administrator Scott Pruitt will appear before a Senate Appropriations panel on Tuesday.
  2. Regulations: EPA is expected to release any day now its plan to formally rescind the controversial "waters of the United States" rule that aimed to boost Clean Water Act protections. Representatives from Exxon, BP and the American Petroleum Institute met on June 20 with OMB, EPA and Army Corps aides about the topic, a newly posted record shows. The in-the-weeds specifics of how EPA writes and defends the move are important, because the effort is certain to be litigated once finalized.
  3. Trends: the annual Energy Information Administration conference takes place today and tomorrow in Washington, with speakers including Energy Secretary Rick Perry and a suite of experts and industry representatives. Agenda here.
  4. Cars: A House Energy and Commerce Committee panel will discuss on Tuesday a suite of bills on self-driving vehicles, with witnesses including the heads of two major auto industry trade groups.
  5. Oil-and-gas: on Thursday a panel of the House Natural Resources Committee will explore industry access to federal lands.
On my screen
  1. Lobbying: BP America has brought on the Regulatory Strategies and Solutions Group for work on "Regulatory reform advocacy related to Federal energy and environmental rules," a newly posted filing states. Nathan Frey, a senior OMB aide in the last two administrations, will represent the company.
  2. More lobbying: the Renewable Energy Group, a biofuels company, has tapped Capitol Counsel, LLC.
  3. Efficiency: A new paper by Pacific Northwest National Laboratory researchers shows how important using existing technology correctly can be when it comes to cutting energy consumption in commercial buildings. They looked at measures that together could cut existing buildings' annual energy thirst by an average of 29 percent, and found huge benefits from better use and upkeep of already-installed equipment like temperatures sensors. Commercial buildings account for roughly a fifth of total U.S. energy consumption.
  4. LNG: Add South Korea to the list of countries becoming major destinations for U.S. liquefied natural gas, per Bloomberg, with the commencement of the 20-year supply contract between Cheniere Energy and Korea Gas Corp. "LNG may play an even bigger role in meeting South Korea's energy demand after the election of Moon Jae-in as president in May. Moon has promised to transition away from coal and nuclear power, favoring natural gas and renewables," Bloomberg reports.
  5. Trade: The New York Times looks at natural gas industry fears that Trump's plans to overhaul NAFTA will hinder access to Mexico, which has become an increasingly large export market.
Behind Goldman's break with Trump over Paris

One more thing about the big Vanity Fair story on the role of former Goldman Sachs officials in the White House, which my colleague Alexi McCammond broke down in the Axios stream.

It emphasizes the context around the instantly famous tweet by CEO Lloyd Blankfein that attacked Trump's decision (opposed by Cohn and Powell) to abandon the Paris climate deal, underscoring how it's about broader corporate positioning vis a vis Trump.

Key passage: "The crucial question confronting Cohn, Mnuchin, and Powell—whether they choose to acknowledge it or not—is if their association with Trump and his administration will forever tarnish the reputations they have worked so hard to build, mostly by affiliation with Goldman Sachs. And given how closely the three Goldman partners have come to be linked with Trump, it might not be great for Goldman either—a fact that Blankfein seems to have intuited."

Ben GemanAmy Harder